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For as long as I can recall I’ve never been a virgin. I remember in my teen years, when my peers were proud of their virginity and spoke about it often. At the time I was fortunate not to be asked blatantly whether I was still a virgin, I’m not sure if I would have been honest. Even more importantly, I remember being grateful that it was not part of my culture to be tested for virginity. I would have disgraced my family, and would have had to explain myself. So I hid my virginity status, mostly helped by assumptions that I must be a virgin since I’m such an introvert.

The question came up with my boyfriend years later though and I couldn’t run away from it, this time it was blatantly asked and required an answer. He did everything right this one evening, got me to the point where my mind was begging him to enter me. Unlike the other times, I let him go all the way, as they say. Suddenly he was huge on top of me, heavy; I disconnected. I opened my eyes and looked at him intensely, no longer feeling the pleasure of the thrust, gentle as he was, but terror of being pressed down. Moans and groans of pleasure turned into winces of pain and panic.

There was something painfully familiar with picture. Me vulnerable. Him powerful. Me the victim, he the perpetrator. He was my unknowing rapist. He was enjoying a moment that brought me pain and displeasure and fear and vulnerability and hatred…I willed him to stop, my mind screamed, but my mouth did not cooperate. Here I was again, helpless, pressed down, small. The object of this man’s pleasure.

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He must have felt the disconnection, rather delayed but felt it nonetheless. I would be grateful later for his recognition of my displeasure, for his attentiveness to my responses. At the moment though, he was that perpetrator and I hated him. He stopped, pulled away slightly, I took a deep quivering breath. He looked at me, “are you okay?” he asked and hugged me tightly.  I cried in his arms, realising our special moment had been haunted. Something good came out of this experience though: I am unshaken in the belief that not all men are the same.

He asked much later in our lives, ‘when we made love for the first time, was it your first time?” I responded, “voluntarily, yes.” My first time- and second, and third and fourth were in fact at the age of five, with a sixteen-year-old uncle.

I’m not fond of sharing stories about my first time; it was anything but special and loving. Every day is yet another struggle to lock it away  into the deepest part of my unconscious mind.